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London, 1802

London, 1802


by William Wordsworth


Symbol Analysis

This is going to sound ridiculously redundant, but here goes: poetry is important to poets. You're all probably shaking your heads out there, sarcastically muttering, "Gee thanks, Shmoop, you are so insightful." Seriously, though – poetry is a favorite topic of many a poet. Wordsworth is no different. While this is mostly a poem about England, it's also a poem about English verse. By invoking Milton's spirit, Wordsworth reminds us of the illustrious tradition of his country's literature. He's not asking Milton to come back and just hang out, after all; instead, Wordsworth longs for the great poet to return to England and restore the country to its previous greatness – literary and otherwise – with his powerful "voice" (10). His poetic voice, that is (though, who knows?, maybe Milton was an awesome baritone. That irrelevant mystery will have to go unsolved for now).

  • Line 3: Metonymy alert! When Wordsworth refers to the "pen" here, he doesn't actually mean some giant all-powerful writing implement (though that would be pretty spectacular, wouldn't it?). Instead, he's referring to the whole English literary tradition of the past.
  • Line 10: Wordsworth expresses the power of Milton's "voice" in this simile, in which he compares it to the sea.

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